Crown Prince Philippe M.A. ’85 has been sworn in as the new King of the Belgians, ascending the throne in a ceremony on Sunday following the abdication of his father, King Albert II.
The Oxford- and Stanford-educated monarch, whose role is largely ceremonial, will nevertheless face a challenging task in mediating ongoing tensions between Belgium’s Dutch-speaking and French communities, which left the country without a government for 541 days in 2010-11 following inconclusive parliamentary elections.
His ascension to the throne, however, was a more celebratory occasion, marked by fireworks and cannon-fire as he took his oath in Belgium’s three official languages — Dutch, French and German.
“You have all the emotional and intellectual qualities to serve our country well,” Albert noted of Philippe in the abdication ceremony.
Philippe visited Stanford last month — as part of a weeklong economic mission to California — and reflected fondly on his time on the Farm.
“It was two of the best years of my life,” he said. “I enjoyed it so much. The spirit that lives here at Stanford opened my mind and gave me so much confidence in myself. This was a cornerstone of my life, and I am very grateful for what I got here.”